A little slice of beautifully landscaped nature that offers incredible sights, family fun, and the signature smell of Michigan spruce! Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest is a great location for a family day trip, a nice place to stop and stretch your legs, or as part of a weekend stay in the area.
While Dow Gardens has been on my “must-see” list for quite some time, the news of the nation’s longest Canopy Walk in Whiting Forest put some steam behind my step in getting there! Finally, we loaded into the car for a road-trip over to Midland, Michigan to see it for ourselves. Boy, was I glad we did!
Find location, business hours, and admission prices by visiting Dow Gardens website.
Exploring Whiting Forest
The first place we headed on our adventure was to the Canopy Walk at Whiting Forest. Our anticipation was high as we drove past the Dow Gardens entrance, parking directly at Whiting Forest. As a parent, I made the decision to wander the newly built, 1,400 foot long path that sits 40 feet above the ground before heading over to Dow Gardens. We find it best to explore what we’re really excited about first, before anyone gets “too tired.”
As our adventure began, we entered the grounds through the Whiting Forest Cafe; I mentally crossed “finding food and drink” off the task list in my head and happily went to the counter to pay our admission.
What started as a normal path through the trees, quickly opened up into a labyrinth of trails above our heads! There were giant rope hammocks, other-worldly tree pods, and unbelievable views of the forest from a perspective high above the typical.
After finishing the Canopy Walk, we kept moving along the forest floor on a paved path that felt like rubber under our feet. This was because it is made of a recycled tire mix! This extra bit of cushion was welcomed, as was the cafe which brought our full loop expedition of the Whiting Forest to a close. We then grabbed a few lemonades from the counter and went back outside to play in the nature themed playground. It was complete with a wading brook and cut log paths. Plus, there were shaded benches and seats for taking a quick rest before continuing our day at Dow Gardens.
Things to Know About Whiting Forest
- Kids 5 and under are FREE
- The only bathrooms we found were in the cafe. Be sure to make a quick pit-stop before heading out to explore!
- The Canopy Walk is 1,400 feet long and takes you up to heights of 40 feet.
- There is a place to buy food and drinks on-site, plus indoor and outdoor tables and seating.
- 1.5 miles of ADA accessible pathways are available at Whiting Forest.
- Free parking lots are available directly at Whiting Forest entrance.
Wandering Dow Gardens
There is a walkway that connects Whiting Forest and Dow Gardens. However not knowing this, we got back into our car and drove the short distance down the road to the entrance of Dow Gardens. Just be sure to hold on to your ticket because the price paid at Whiting Forest covers entrance into both locations.
Dow Gardens is 110-acres of cultivated landscape filled with annuals, perennials, and pathways for wandering between them. During our visit, there was a band playing outside. While I’m not sure that this is typical, the music from this event carried through the gardens creating a whimsical experience of sight, sound, and smell.
Beyond being sensory-pleasing, this was a nice place to wander, look at flowers, and find simple joy in chatting as a family. Some of my favorite conversations with my kids took place as we walked the calm paths of Dow Gardens…
Things to Know About Dow Gardens
- Entrance into either Whiting Forest or Dow Gardens covers both locations.
- Bathrooms are located in the main entrance lobby and scattered throughout the park.
- There is a gift shop in the main lobby with beautiful nature themed gifts. We’ve also added a few suggestions of related items to purchase at the bottom of this article.
- 3 miles of ADA accessible pathways.
- Free parking is available on-site.
Places to Visit Nearby
While a visit to Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest is a full day activity, there are many other cool places to discover nearby!
- Explore the Tridge (tri-bridge) in Midland, Michigan
- Discover Frankenmuth, Michigan within 50 miles
Keep the Fun Going with Nature Crafts for Kids
After spending the day at Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest, we became inspired to create our own garden habitat at home. Here are a few of the fun products we discovered to bring a piece of this adventure home with us. This list contains Amazon Affiliate links. Should you choose to make a purchase, we would be paid a small fee and feel forever grateful for your support.
Have you visited Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest? Leave your best tips for others in the comments below!